Up-Cycle Old Jeans to Cropped Denim Jacket

Hi everyone

I haven’t had much time to do these tutorials as often as I would like to, so please accept my apologies. I hope you are all well and enjoying the sunny days that are coming our way in the UK (for those of us in the UK). So as I sat thinking, what can I do to make up for this shortage of new tutorials, it hit me that a nice up-cycle would be a good idea and on that note I stormed my husbands wardrobe with a mission (as you do). Tunde (my DH) has an abundance of jeans he just doesn’t wear any more so naturally I decided that this was the garment to pinch. I really wanted to use just the fabric in the jeans so the challenge I set myself was to come up with something stylish and wearable without adding any other fabric. Here is what I ended up with


but I’m really interested to see what everyone else would do differently, or if you have ever done a jeans up-cycle please let me see!! In the meantime, here’s the “how to” for this one folks.

You will need:


A pair of jeans (preferably a large pair, men or women’s as long as it will have enough fabric in it)




Measuring Tape

Seam ripper or Razor Blade

Steam Iron

Sewing Machine

Measurements needed:

Back, bust, waist, shoulder to bust, shoulder to waist and round sleeve

I have a video on how to measure yourself http://chinelobally.com/2014/01/16/sew-essential-how-to-measure-yourself/

Step 1

Using your tape, measure and mark 0.75″ below the waistband all the way around, cut along this line and keep the waist band to one side (measure the thickness of the band and make note of this measurement)

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Step 2

Using your seam ripper or razor blade, carefully cut away the threads that hold the back patch pockets to detach them, set these aside.


Step 3 

Working on one of the back legs, use your ruler to draw a straight horizontal line as close to the top as possible; this is to give you a straight edge to start building your measurements on


Step 4

from the straight line, measure downwards 9″ and mark (this is a reference mark)


minus the thickness of the waist band from the shoulder to waist measurement and mark this from the top as you just did previously. (this is your second reference mark)



The outer side seam of the leg you are working on is going to be your centre back, so when you do your markings for these steps make sure that you work from that edge in towards the inner leg seams


Quarter your bust measurement+2″ and mark this horizontally along the 9″ reference mark you made with a small cross. This is now the bust line

quarter your waist measurement+2″ and mark this horizontally along the second reference mark, again with a small cross



Half the back measurement+0.5″ and mark this along the top from the centre back.



From the cross at the bust line, draw a 2″ straight horizontal line towards the centre back



Draw a curved line that joins the mark along the top line to the beginning of the 2″ line you just drew



To create the neck hole, measure 3.5″ along the top line from the centre back and 1.25″ down the centre back, draw a curve that joins these 2 makings

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draw a straight line that joins the 2 crosses at the side, and a straight horizontal line along the bottom that extends from the centre back to the second cross this is now your waist seam.

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Cut this out; be very careful when cutting, make sure you only cut one layer and do not cut off the seam allowance in the jeans originally because you will use this when sewing the back pieces together. lay this piece on the other leg in the same position you cut it out from and cut around it.

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Now flip your jeans over to the front, lay you piece on one of the front legs and cut around this, this is now one half of the front. take this piece and deepen the curve in the armhole


now lay this on the other front leg and cut around it.



Step 5

measure the crossover in the waist band, half this and make note of this



cross your front pieces over in the centre to replicate the crossover in the waist band now draw a neckline that suites your preference



cut this out and you are ready to place your darts

Step 6

line up your front and back pieces, measure across your breast points (apex/nipple), half this measurement, and fold your fabric along the waist seam at this measurement. press to create a definite crease; this is now your dart line. (the yellow line you see in the picture below is the cross over point in the front)

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from the highest point of the shoulder seam, mark the shoulder to bust measurement along the crease. place one finger In the deepest part of the front arm hole curve and another finger on the bust point you just marked and fold across these to fingers to create a diagonal crease that extends from the arm hole to the dart line, press this.

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you will now have a crease that resembles the yellow line in the picture below


the dart from the arm hole will be 1″ deep and 3″ long and so will the dart in the front, when you draw them, slightly curve the lines,

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This is one continuous dart so when you sew it you must start from the arm hole and once you reach the end of the 3″ do not sew off the fabric; rather continue right on the edge of the crease and when the creases intercept, pick up the machine foot with the needle still down, pivot the fabric so that you will now be working on the front crease, keep sewing close to the edge till you come to the dart lines you drew and continue sewing along the dart line .

The Back darts are 1″ deep and 12″ long

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once you have drawn and sew your darts sew the back pieces together in the centre using the seam allowance that was originally in the jeans

Step 7

attach the front pieces to either side of the back piece with a 0.5″ seam allowance



working at the waist seam of the bodice, measure the length from the centre back seam to the centre front


Fold the waist band in half, measuring from the front, mark the measurement you just took from the waist seam of the bodice. Add 0.5″ to this as seam allowance.


Cut off the excess from the waist band, sew it back together with the 0.5″ seam allowance.

sew the waist band to the bodice, matching up the centre back seams

Step 8

With your tape, measure the entire neck hole



cut out a piece from the jeans that is 10″ thick and half the neck hole measurement +0.5″  long. Fold this in half so that it becomes 5″ thick, cut a slight slant on one end. I should like this



repeat this so that you have 2 of these


sew these together in the middle with a 0.25″ seam allowance , and sew the slanted edges with a 0.25″ allowance.

Turn it out press and sew this around the neck hole .

to make the sleeves have a look at my post on sleeves ( http://chinelobally.com/2014/02/04/busy-bee-how-to-cut-a-sleeve-without-a-pattern/ )

As usual guys if you have any questions just contact me and I will do my best to clarify for you, i would really love to see your attempt at this and would appreciate any pictures.

On another note, there are very few spaces left on my up-coming maxi dress work shop. Click on this link to book your space!!


Till next time

Happy sewing






The Shirt Challenge: My Giant Bow Boob-Tube Tutorial

Hey everyone.

Hope your all as excited about the sewing bee as I am. A massive thank you to you all for the kind words and support, it has been great encouragement for me and I just wanna give you all massive hugs. On a downer, it was sad to see simon go this week, he was such a great character and its really encouraging to see a young man  interested in sewing; I say that like I’m miles older than him when I’m only a year older, but you know what I mean.

This week my favourite challenge was the 2 shirt challenge, and I am going to show you how to make the top I made with the big draping bow shoulder detail. This one:


I have been eyeing one of my husband’s old(ish) shirts for a while now so as he isn’t around this has presented me with the perfect opportunity to pinch it, so I have done just that, and check this, it has a stripy pattern (O the joys of re-living sewing bee days).

You will need:IMG_2036

A large men’s shirt (preferably stolen from your spouse or partner, dads and brothers also count)

Fuse-able interfacing

Bias binding



Pen/chalk/something to mark your fabric with


Steam Iron

Sewing machine

Needle and tread.

Your measurements ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dkywf2kGthg&feature=youtu.be )

The very first thing to do is iron the shirt so that it is easy to work with. Fold the back and front of the shirt in half so that the side seams meet in the middle and press. like this,



bring the centre front fold (where the buttons are) over so that it meets with the centre back fold



Place the 25″ mark on your tape at the bottom centre edge of the shirt, and mark the shirt a quarter of an inch above your “shoulder to upper bust” measurement. Mine “shoulder to upperbust measurement is 6.75″ so I have marked my shirt at 6.5”.  Then put a mark 1″ below that mark (so for mine the is a mark at 6.5″ and 7.5″; this mark is where the top will dip at the chest so you can make yours as low as you want but bear in mind that you want a button right at the top of the centre front or else it just won’t work)



from the mark you just made for your “shoulder to upperbust” measure 4.5″ inwards and mark; as belowIMG_2047


Now place the 25″ mark on your tape at the bottom of the centre again and mark your “shoulder to waist ” measurement (mine is 16.5″),  and at 9″ mark on your shirt. These marks are your waist line and your bust line

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Divide your waist and bust measurements into 4 and mark them along the waist and bust line accordingly, (add 3″ to the divided waist measurement and 2″ to the divided bust measurement before marking; so it will be “bust/4+2” and “waist/4+3”) This is sewing so at some point you will need to do some maths 😦 sorry guys)

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Divide your hip measurement by 4 + 2″ and mark along the bottom of the shirt.



Now use a ruler to join the tree marks you just made



From the bustline mark, measure 2″ in towards the centre and mark



Using a ruler or freehand if you like, draw lines that join all the marks along the top. It should look like this: Note the button right at the top.

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Cut this out and separate the front and back of the top.

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Take the back piece and fold down the top of it to create a straight edge, press and cut along the crease line, like this:

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Now measure 4.5″ from the centre back in towards the side seams, mark and fold the top length ways on this mark as pictured below: press to create definite crease lines

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Do he same with the front piece. These creases you just ironed in will create your dart lines.

Unfold the front and back pieces and invert the crease lines that are facing outwards, you do this because you will be drawing in your darts on the inside of the top.

Take your back piece, working on the dart lines, mark 1″ inwards along the waist line. from that mark measure 6″ up and down, slanting towards the fold. Use a ruler to join these marks. like this:

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Now take your front pieces and do the same, but on the top corners of the dart lines measure 1″ in from the fold and slant a line 3.5″ long down towards the fold:

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Again use a ruler and join the marks so that it looks like this:



now sew along the darts you have drawn for the front and back pieces, you will find that the front piece needs rounding off at the top of the dart, simply fold the front piece in half, take your scissors and round off the top like this:

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Give the front and back darts a good press. Use some bias binding of your choice to finish off the top edges, lay the back and front pieces on top of each other, right sides facing, line up the side seams and pin to secure together.

Working from the centre, mark a quarter of your bust measurement along the bust line, do the same for the waist and hips:

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Using a ruler Join these marks. It should look like this:



Flip the shirt round and repeat. Sew along the lines you created in both side seams. Test your top for fit and make any necessary adjustments by letting out or taking in the side seams (always equal amounts on both sides).

Once you are happy with the fit attach a ribbon over one shoulder from the highest point of the front to the back (do this whilst wearing the top so that it fits over your shoulder perfectly

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For the bow I decided to use another fabric because my husband would notice if 2 of his shirts went missing.

The size of the bow is completely up to you. It is made using 4 identical strips of fabric and 2 strips of fuseable interfacing.

fuse the interfacing to the fabric’s wrong side  for 2 of the pieces. Lay these pieces over the other 2 strips of fabric right sides facing. like this:

IMG_2110 then sew sown the longer side seams:IMG_2111

Turn the strips out and press, then finish off the top and bottom edge with some bias binding or by folding in 0.5″ and top stitching along the edge:

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lay the strips of side by side, off centre. Pinch the middle of the strips to create the bow. You can either use a sewing machine to secure this or hand stitch:

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Wrap a bit of the ribbon around the centre of the bow and secure with a couple of hand stitches



Drape the bow on the ribbon over the shoulder and secure with a few discrete hand stitches, so that it holds the shape you want it to.

Have fun creating your own, oooh and try some contrasting fabrics and trimmings (for the Tamaras out there).

Please send me pictures of your own project and place your comments in the form below.

Have a lovely day and God bless xxxx